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Real Estate Patriarch Herbert Haft Wins Case Against Son

May 22, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Herbert Haft, patriarch of the feuding Washington real estate family, was awarded control of its business empire by a court Tuesday.

Judge Geoffrey Alprin of D.C. Superior Court ruled against Herbert Haft’s son Ronald and a business ally, Donald Bourassa, saying they acted with ``willful, wanton and reckless disregard″ of Herbert Haft’s rights by seizing control of Combined Properties Inc., the family’s real estate management company.

Herbert and Ronald Haft originally were allies in a bitter fight with other members of their family, but father and son began fighting after a settlement with other family members left it unclear which of them controlled the family’s real estate partnership.

Ronald Haft and other employees of Combined seized control of the company from Herbert Haft in September 1994. His father sued him and Ronald Haft and the company, which filed for bankruptcy protection last May, filed several counterclaims against Herbert Haft.

Alprin said a jury, which in February decided damages primarily in Herbert Haft’s favor, had ``definitively rejected″ the argument by Ronald Haft and Bourassa that they ousted Herbert Haft because they were concerned he would loot the company to finance settlements with his ex-wife and two other children, Robert and Linda Haft.

The two ``simply had no right to do what they did, and, therefore, what they did cannot stand,″ the judge said.

Herbert Haft’s attorney, Michael Carroll, said his client ``won a complete victory″ and ``a complete vindication″ in his battle with Ronald Haft with his reinstatement as chairman of Combined. The company manages all the family real estate partnerships, which own more than 40 shopping centers in the Washington area.

Calling the decision ``egregiously wrong,″ Paul Cappuccio, Ronald Haft’s lawyer, said his client would appeal.

Herbert Haft said in a statement issued by his attorney that he was gratified by the ruling.